TSMC's long-standing global dominance in the foundry industry, despite challenges from the likes of Samsung and Intel, is due in large part to its success in building the TSMC Grand Alliance ecosystem. Within this alliance, the most important is the TSMC Open Innovation Platform (OIP), specifically the TSMC EDA Alliance.
EDA (electronic design automation) is crucial for IC design. If one perceives IC design, wafer manufacturing, and packaging/testing as the upstream, midstream, and downstream of the semiconductor industry respectively, then the EDA industry is the upstream of the upstream.
EDA is basically the CAD tool of the IC design sector. Under Moore's Law, the scaling for semiconductor processes is getting more and more sophisticated. The most advanced process involves thousands of steps that are all closely connected to one another. Different wafer fabs also have process technologies unique to them. EDA software must, to a certain extent, be able to optimize the steps for each fab's process. This also includes the IP applications for EDA suppliers and wafer fabs.
The IC design sector puts its emphasis on a product's power, performance, and area (PPA), as well as the release timeline. A good EDA tool can assist IC design houses to complete their design signoff and tapeout sooner, which means that the subsequent mask and wafer production can begin smoothly.
According to data on TSMC's website (last updated: 2022/07/01), the TSMC EDA Alliance has 16 members. The following are profiles of these companies I compiled:
Altair Engineering is a US-based IT technology company listed on Nasdaq. Its headquarters is in Troy, Michigan. The company offers services like data analysis, electronic system design, HPC tools, and more. It has a branch in Taiwan.
Ansys is a US-based IT technology company listed on Nasdaq. Its headquarters is in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It provides all kinds of engineering simulation software. In Taiwan, its distributors include companies like Cybernet and TADC.
AnaGlobe is a professional EDA supplier in Taiwan. Its headquarters is in Hsinchu, Taiwan. Its main products are the large-scale layout solution Thunder, layout platforms GOLF and PLAG, and the image file viewer GlobeViewer. AnaGlobe is currently a private company.
Arteris is a provider of networking-on-chip IP and IP layout services. Its headquarters are in Campbell, located in Silicon Valley. The company is publicly listed on Nasdaq. The company has a branch in Nanjing, China.
Cadence Design Systems
Cadence is a top-3 EDA supplier globally, with around 9,300 employees worldwide. Its headquarters are in San Jose, California, and is listed on Nasdaq. Cadence also has an international HQ in Dublin, Ireland, as well as an Asia/Pacific HQ in Shanghai, China. Cadence also has a branch in Hsinchu Science Park, Taiwan, in addition to a training center in Taipei, Taiwan, with around 550 employees.
Empyrean is a professional EDA supplier from China. Its headquarters is in Chaoyang District, Beijing. The company was founded in 2009, with the China Electronics Corporation (CEC) as its largest shareholder. Empyrean was publicly listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange in July 2022.
iROC Technologies is a private software company from France. It was split from the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS in French) back in 2000. Its headquarters is in Grenoble, located in Southeast France. The company provides reliability risk assessment software and IP services.
Keysight Technologies is a developer of electronic measurement software and hardware products, including the PaveWave series of EDA products. The company was split from Agilent Technologies back in 2014, which itself was split from HP back in 1999. Keysight Technologies' HQ is in Santa Rosa, California, and is publicly listed on the New York Stock Exchange. The company has three branch offices in Taiwan, located in Taipei, Zhongli, and Kaohsiung.
Legend Design Technology
Legend Design Technology was previously an EDA software company located in Santa Clara, California. It was founded by Dr. You-Pang Wei, who graduated with an electrical engineering degree from National Taiwan University (NTU), and had a branch in Taiwan. The company was acquired by China's Empyrean in May 2017, and all Legend Design employees were transferred to Empyrean. Since both companies weren't publicly listed back then, this was a private transaction, hence why there isn't a lot of information on the market.
Lorentz Solution is an EDA software company specializing in developing electromagnetic IC design platforms. It was founded by Chinese American Jin-Song Zhao. Its headquarters are in Santa Clara, California, with a branch office in Hsinchu, Taiwan. Jin-Song Zhao previously worked at Bell Labs and Cadence. In its early days, Lorentz Solution received funds from Cadence's venture capital subsidiary.
Siemens EDA (formerly Mentor Graphics)
Mentor Graphics was previously one of the top-3 EDA suppliers in the world. After it was acquired by Germany's Siemens group at the end of 2016, it continued operating under the name "Siemens Mentor." It eventually changed its name to Siemens EDA in January 2021. After the name change, Siemens EDA continues to acquire other EDA software companies to strengthen itself. These include acquiring the US-based Avatar in July 2020 and Fractal Technologies (which was also a member of the TSMC EDA Alliance) in May 2021. Siemens EDA's global headquarters is in Plano, Texas, with branch offices in Taipei and Hsinchu.
MunEDA is a professional EDA supplier headquartered in Munich, Germany. The company was founded in 2001 and is currently still private. The EDA lab at the electrical engineering department of Taiwan's National Central University (NCU) uses MunEDA's software package for teaching and research purposes. Grand Technology, located in Hsinchu, is its distributor in Taiwan, while Empyrean is its distributor in China.
ProPlus Design Solutions
ProPlus Design Solutions is a private EDA software company located in San Jose, California. It was a branch office in Hsinchu. The company's executives are all Chinese Americans born in China. At the time of this writing, the company's website is not accessible, and the company's Facebook hasn't been updated since 2017.
Silicon Frontline is a private EDA software company located in San Jose, California. Taiwan's Kaviaz distributes the company's EDA products.
Silvaco develops EDA software, technology CAD software (TCAD), and semiconductor design IP. Its headquarters are in Santa Clara, California. Though it's not publicly listed, it has already developed into a major private corporation. Silvaco has an R&D center subsidiary in Hsinchu, Taiwan, with around 200 employees.
Synopsys, together with Cadence and Siemens EDA, is a top-3 EDA supplier globally, and Synopsys is generally considered the leader among the three. It has over 16,000 employees worldwide. Its headquarters is in Mountain View, California, and it's publicly listed on Nasdaq. Synopsys has a branch office and an R&D center in Taiwan. With over 900 employees, it's one of the largest international corporations in Taiwan. Synopsys's R&D center is located at the Bo'ai Campus of National Yang-Ming Chiao Tung University (NYCU) in Hsinchu. This has further enhanced NYCU's academic and R&D capabilities, which already have a unique spot in the semiconductor sector.
(Editor's note: Passionate in teaching and sharing, Kuo-Hua Chou currently serves as an Associate Professor in Taiwan's National Pingtung University, teaching accounting. He has been dedicated to constructing sites teaching accounting, XBRL and semiconductor industry analysys. The majority of his teaching material and written work are open to public access: http://www.ais.nptu.edu.tw)